Helpmann Award winning arts company The Farm will benefit from a share in $1.8 million, thanks to City of Gold Coast’s Triennial Grants Program.
They’re one of nine Gold Coast organisations to be awarded a three-year grant with the aim of building sector capacity to grow and deliver high-quality cultural products for the community.
The Farm Directors Grayson Millwood and Gavin Webber spoke to We Are Gold Coast about their Helpmann Award, their three-year grant and their number one tip for other artists writing grants.
Congratulations on your triennial funding. Having certainty of funding for three years must have a massive impact to your work.
It’s a massive boost for our self esteem and confidence going forward. Without it we would have felt like wallflowers at the school social, wanting to dance under the glitter ball but too self conscious to do so. It has been an incredible time for us on the Gold Coast. Our work has expanded because of our location and because the City placed its trust in us. We love making art here and taking that art to the world. Having another three years of secure funding means we can continue to build on what we have achieved so far.
Your funding is to help grow your repertoire and expand touring opportunities. What are your plans for the next three years?
We’ve had a pretty good few years of national and international touring and now have the luxury of successful shows in our repertoire that continue to tour. The touring creates more opportunities as you get to know presenters and they trust you to deliver. This reputation and support makes creating and selling work easier. We want to use our strong position to support and invest in the works of a number of Farm artists, as we just have with Kate Harman and her work ‘Depthless’ in Brisbane, and are currently doing with Michael Smith’s work Cowboy. We can now share more with the Gold Coast community and have more seasons on the coast.
You recently won a Helpmann Award. How did your previous triennial grant contribute to that?
Dance needs space and our previous triennial grant established that space. Over the last couple of years, our studio has become a bit of a hub for independent dance on the Gold Coast. Secure funding gave us the ability to create a long term partnership with Bleach Festival, which led pretty directly to our Helpmann Award, and that success in turn leads us to be able to aim for greater goals and plan for the next phase of the company. Having our city support us in this way is the first step in our ability to be a force on the national arts scene.
What impact does winning a Helpmann Award have on future projects?
It’s hard to measure the impact of an award like that but we feel the difference. Being the only 2018 Queensland winner for a show that was performed solely on a sandbar at Currumbin Creek is a pretty wild achievement and I think goes beyond our company. Todd MacDonald from la Boîte Theatre Company who was born and raised on the Gold Coast came up to us after the award and said “we won!” because he felt that it was an award not just for our company but for the Gold Coast itself.
Recognition like that changes thinking and reframes people’s assessment of a place. It shows that you don’t have to be based in Melbourne or Sydney to make a significant impact. We think that award was like a banner raised from the Gold Coast telling the rest of the Australian arts scene we are here.
What would you say to other arts companies considering applying for a grant?
Try to decide amongst yourselves that grant writing doesn’t suck because you’re going to have to do a lot of it. We have slowly worked out who in the company does which task the best and then we’ve found a way to maximise our time and even (don’t tell anyone) enjoyment of writing grants. It does seem to get easier the more you do it. As for tips… Read what the grant is for, be clear with your collaborators/partners as early as possible, never lose sight of why you are doing it, start writing early so that the character limit doesn’t cut you off, , and make sure that th